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Lacking courage; cowardly.

chick′en·heart′ed·ness n.




easily frightened; cowardly
ˌchicken-ˈheartedly adv
ˌchicken-ˈheartedness n


fearful; cowardly.
[1675–85, Amer.]


[ˈtʃɪkɪnˌhɑːtɪd] ADJcobarde, gallina


(ˈtʃikin) noun
1. a young bird, especially a young hen. She keeps chickens.
2. its flesh used as food. a plate of fried chicken.
3. (slang.) a coward.
ˌchicken-ˈhearted adjective
ˈchicken-pox noun
an infectious disease with fever and red itchy spots.
chicken out
to avoid doing something because of cowardice. He chickened out at the last minute.
References in classic literature ?
Again: if under the sudden anguish of a wound the receiver of it makes a grimace, he falls some degrees in the estimation of his fellows; his corps are ashamed of him: they call him "hare foot," which is the German equivalent for chicken-hearted.
Huck, being un- committed as yet, joined in with Tom, and the waverer quickly "explained," and was glad to get out of the scrape with as little taint of chicken-hearted home- sickness clinging to his garments as he could.
And there were Castor and Pollux, the twin brothers, who were never accused of being chicken-hearted, although they had been hatched out of an egg; and Theseus, who was so renowned for killing the Minotaur, and Lynceus, with his wonderfully sharp eyes, which could see through a millstone, or look right down into the depths of the earth, and discover the treasures that were there; and Orpheus, the very best of harpers, who sang and played upon his lyre so sweetly, that the brute beasts stood upon their hind legs, and capered merrily to the music.
To destroy our malefactors piece-meal, drying up in their veins, drop by drop, the blood we are too chicken-hearted to shed by a single blow which would at once put a period to their sufferings, is deemed to be infinitely preferable to the old-fashioned punishment of gibbeting--much less annoying to the victim, and more in accordance with the refined spirit of the age; and yet how feeble is all language to describe the horrors we inflict upon these wretches, whom we mason up in the cells of our prisons, and condemn to perpetual solitude in the very heart of our population.
I don't exactly hate them myself, but I haven't any regard for chicken-hearted four-flushers.